The Future is Streaming - Also in Classical Music

The consumer research firm Nielsen has just released its annual report on music consumption in the US for 2015. The good news - overall album consumption increased by 15%. But this growth comes only from streaming which has doubled in a single year. 

So it seams about time to take a look at streaming of classical music. There is a growing number of providers out there and below are some of them. The biggest challenges they face are:
  • insuring a high quality audio experience as classical music lovers are much more demanding
  • solving the meta data problem because the search logic for music was developed with pop music in mind, not classical music
  • making money from streaming
One of the companies addressing the meta data problem is Dart Music which also distributes the increasing number of independently produced albums to all major digital platforms.

 1  The Start-Ups

A growing number of start-ups has entered the classical music streaming market. 
MediciMedici.tv is one of the pioneers in the field. In contrast to most others it focuses on video content. It had is big breakthrough in 2015 with the live streaming of the Tchaikowsky competition. It offers a subscription model but relies heavily on partners for its financial viability. 
Grammofy: The British-German start-up Grammofy launched its beta in 2015. It provides a weekly collection of classical music with introductions to the works. The collections contain well known titles as well as rarities. 
Idagio: Berlin based start-up Idagio also launched in 2015 and offers an iOS app for classical music. Besides its curated content it provides music for the listener's mood. It also wants to provide musicians a way to easily distribute music to its audiences.

 2  The Labels

All the major labels have experimented with their own streaming platforms besides distributing their content to the big platforms. The jury is still out on who will be successful in that.
Naxos: For the labels Naxos has pioneered streaming. Its Naxos Music Library is the largest streaming library of classical music with more than 120,000 albums available for streaming. Its an invaluable resource for research and part of the PRO packages of the classical music community, HELLO STAGE.
Universal: recently launched Composed, a subscription only service with the catalogues of DECCA and Deutsche Grammophon. Currently the service is only available in the UK.
PENTATONEprimephonic is not a streaming but a downloading service for high quality classical music albums. Not surprisingly primephonic was founded by the eclectic label PENTATONE taking audio quality extremely seriously. It just added a community feature to its website.

 3  The Orchestras and Presenters

Many orchestras but also concert halls have started streaming services. The biggest question for them is if they can ever reach a wide enough audience to make the financials work.
Berlin Philharmonic: The Digital Concert Hall was one of the first ones to bring its concerts to a worldwide audience via video streaming. It not only offers live streaming of concerts but has also a large catalogue of the orchestra's concerts. It is a subscription only service.
Gothenburg SymphonyGSOplay is the free video streaming service. It streams its concerts live and has an archive of the concerts of the last 30 days.
Bergen Philharmonic: The Bergen Philharmonic went even further. Besides its free streaming service it partnered with the music tech company OIID to develop a new musical experience on tablets and smart phones. You can view the score while listening to the recording, or even focus on various instruments.

 4  The Tech Giants

It is no big news that the tech giants of Silicon Valley have entered the music business early on and are driving some of the change. But surprising is that Google is active in classical music versus Apple just focusing on pop and rock.
Google added Classical Live to its Google Play platform in 2015. Classical Live provides streaming and download of a few leading orchestras of the world including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
But more importantly Google added performing arts to its Cultural Institute. The content is currently still very limited but the technology of having "street-view" like cameras inside an orchestra or on a stage is an impressive start. 

Author: Bernhard Kerres
Comments [1]
Rolf den Otter - 2016-02-10 06:25
Availability over sound quality... For me, Spotify is the aural equivalent of the Library of Alexandria. And I know, not favorable for small CD labels, but for the consumer a treasure trove. Ok, Metadata still a disaster (on Spotify, that is), therefore I strarted this blog:


to generate playlists of about 2 hours with metadata and a bit of info on the works. Complete works amap. Hope you will enjoy it ;-) Greetings, Rolf
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